Analysis

When the outside world thinks about Australia, it generally turns to venerable cliches of innocence — cricket, leaping marsupials, endless sunshine, no worries. Australian governments actively encourage this. Witness the recent “G’day USA” campaign, in which Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman sought to persuade people in the US that, unlike the empire’s problematic outposts, a gormless greeting awaited them Down Under. After all, George Bush had ordained the previous Australian prime minister, John Howard, “sheriff of Asia”.
On March 20, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that federal immigration minister Chris Evans had agreed to “speed-up” the processing of 457 visas, which allow bosses to hire skilled workers from overseas to fill alleged skill shortages.
As part of the former Howard government’s Northern Territory “intervention”, the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) was abolished. The Howard government had planned to abolish it across other states on July 1 this year.
Global warming, General Motors’ vice-chairperson of global product development Robert A. Lutz told reporters in a closed-door meeting in January, is “a total crock of shit”. Within hours the remark was reported on the internet, and spread, as Lutz subsequently lamented, “like ragweed”.
Channel Seven boss Kerry Stokes’s HRL Ltd and China’s Harbin Power Engineering Company are to build a $750 million “clean coal” power station in the Latrobe Valley that, when operational from the end of 2009, will add significantly to Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions.
On March 10 and 11, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an expose of “white flight” from public schools across NSW. Using a previously confidential survey of 163 high school principals in NSW, it described the phenomenon where increasing numbers of white-European parents were removing their children from disadvantaged public schools in regional and remote areas and areas in Sydney’s south-west and placing them in private schools or in selective state schools in more distant suburbs.

The following speech was delivered by Enas to a March 12 Melbourne protest in solidarity with Palestine, held to coincide with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s motion in parliament that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.

Labor’s new Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008, tabled in federal parliament on February 13, will most likely come in to effect early April. The bill is the first in a raft of legislation to be introduced to parliament and is promoted by the federal government as the first step in the dismantling of Work Choices.
Ever heard of Walter Lindrum? No. How about Arthur Streeton or Nelly Melba? Don’t ring a bell either? Well, that’s OK as long as you were just playing a game of trivia or filling in a crossword. Unfortunately, not knowing the answer to these or similarly trivial questions can have a more serious outcome nowadays — it might actually jeopardise an immigrant’s chances of becoming an Australian citizen.
Carbon trading and offsets distract attention from the wider, systemic changes and collective political action that needs to be taken in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Promoting more effective and empowering approaches to climate change involves moving away from the blinkered reductionism of free-market dogma, the false economy of supposed quick fixes and the short-term self-interest of big business.

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